Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
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Winner of the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia is the new film from the celebrated director of Distant and Climates. In the dead of night, a group of men among them, a police commissioner, a prosecutor, a doctor and a murder suspect drive through the Anatolian countryside, the serpentine roads and rolling hills lit only by the headlights of their cars. They are searching for a corpse, the victim of a brutal murder. The suspect, who claims he was drunk, can t remember where he buried the body. As night wears on, details about the murder emerge and the investigators own hidden secrets come to light. In the Anatolian steppes, nothing is what it seems; and when the body is found, the real questions begin.
- Interview with the Director (24 minutes)
- Anatolia in Cannes (48 minutes): Photocall, TVCannes Videos, Press Conference, Red Carpet Gala, Award Ceremony
- Lost in Thought (2012, HD, 24 minutes), a visual essay by Haden Guest, Director of the Harvard Film Archive
- Theatrical Trailer
- Booklet featuring introduction to Nuri Bilge Ceylan
"Anatolia is a cop movie and a road movie - but mostly it s GORGEOUS CINEMA." --Andrew O Hehir, Salon
"A masterpiece. A police procedural that slowly gains the quality of a collective dream." --New York Magazine
"Ravishingly atmospheric. A meditative masterpiece of a policier." --Ella Taylor, NPR
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A beautifully shot, deliberately paced existentialist meditation on crime, relationships, and truth. Shot mostly in gorgeous long takes that take full advantage of the widescreen aspect ratio, the film requires (and rewards) patient viewing. The first half of the film, in which a late-night caravan of law enforcement officials drive two murder suspects to a series of nearly identical rural wells, looking for the location of a buried body, is brilliant. It echoes Waiting for Godot, as the seemingly endless search for the body fades into the background, and the focus turns to conversations about personal problems, petty bureaucracy, differing values, and the meaning of life. As the film continues, different members of the caravan wax and wane in importance, each offering a different perspective on life and one's place in the world. The final act of the film -- which occurs back in town the following day -- drags a bit, but contains powerful revelations.
Despite it's subtle metaphysical explorations, this film is also a highly realistic police procedural. It is very faint praise to say that this film is the anti-CSI, but it's cynical views of truth and justice contrast starkly with TV procedurals. A vain prosecutor basks in his role and makes up facts for convenience, no one has remembered to bring a body bag (or a hearse) for the corpse, the gendarmes are more concerned about where municipal boundaries fall than anything else, a critical medical discovery is fudged, there are rumors the murder victim has been seen alive in neighboring towns, and nothing is wrapped up in an hour, let alone 150 minutes...
This is a film for patient viewers who enjoy the liesurely-paced works of Malick, von Trier, Kiarostami, Tarkovsky or other auteurs of so-called Contemporary Contemplative Cinema.
The movie begins against the gray backdrop of the Anatolian steppes and the bright orange headlights of cars meandering down a narrow road. The police have captured a murder suspect, who is trying to lead them to a body. When the sky turns pitch black and the suspect has problems identifying the location, the confusion leads to tragicomedic scenes and taut plot development begins in unexpected ways. Every scene pulls in the viewer deeper and deeper into the story, along with a side-story, to knot the interest.
I was tempted to correct some of the subtitles, but all in all the translation is very good.
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